816 North Opinion

Picnics, games affordable fun for family

It’s warm out. It’s cold out. It’s warm out. It’s cold out.

I’m never sure anymore, but we are all chomping at the bit to get out and play in the neighborhood. Our street is like a magnet: Once one person emerges, it’s not long before you have a crowd! Neighborhood events and block parties are a treasured American pastime, and the Hnatyshyn family gets our fair share of outdoor time during the spring and summer. Here are a few ideas you can use to plan some affordable activities in and around your neighborhood this year to keep the entire family busy.

Drive-In Movies

We are lucky to have a drive-in near not too far from our home, so when a family flick comes out, we call our friends and head that way in a convoy of cars. Let the summer memories begin! We set the kids up on blankets or lawn chairs, everyone brings food to share and the adults sit in the back while everyone enjoys the film. When there’s nothing suitable playing, we recreate the scene in the driveway. A simple bedsheet on the garage doors, a few speakers and a laptop projector creates a fabulous outdoor theater for the entire neighborhood. If you don’t have some of those items handy, have others chip in to finish the “theater” affect. This even allows you the flexibility of grilling out during the movie!

Picnic and Park Time

We are never far from our neighborhood park, and for good reason. It’s the only part of town where the adults, big kids and little kids all have something engaging to do! The adults can get in a walk or some bike time while the kids either play on the equipment or fish the area pond. We often pack sandwiches, juice boxes and snacks to extend our time outdoors. Fun, exercise and Vitamin D for all. It’s a triple win. I suggest that you familiarize yourself with all the parks or trails around your area, even if they are a bit out of the way. I know my family gets tired of the same park after a while, so we mix it up occasionally for a change of scenery.

Cul-de-sac Games

There are so many outdoor games you can organize that are fun for all ages. This tends to draw everyone into the cul-de-sacs where it’s safer with less traffic.

We love in-line skating and biking, and kickball is always a hit. We typically organize the games in the street and set up some lawn chairs in the driveways with a sidewalk table for food. Burgers and hot dogs, pasta salad, a variety of chips, juice and cookies are all great potluck choices for afternoon or evening games, and it makes dinner easy and affordable. This is also a great time of year to set up an evening fire pit for hot dogs and s’mores before it gets too hot. Expert s’mores tip: substitute the chocolate for a peanut butter cup.

All the neighborhood magic happens outside when we join with local friends and families for a good time, and it’s affordable entertainment to boot. I hope you can use some of these tips to enhance your spring and summer experience where you live.

Kat’s Money Corner is posted on KansasCity.com every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, visit http://communityamerica.com.